McKeith History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
- Origins Available:
In Scottish history, few names go farther back than McKeith, whose ancestors lived among the clans of the Pictish tribe. The ancestors of the McKeith family lived in the lands of Keith in the county of East Lothian. Traditionally the Keiths were descended from Robert, an early Chieftain of the Catti tribe, and possibly one of the earliest settlers in Scotland. Robert joined King Malcolm II at the battle of Panbridge, in 1006, against Camus, leader of the Danes.
Robert slew Camus for which King Malcolm granted Robert the hereditary title of Marshall of Scotland, with a barony in Lothian and the island of Inskeith in the gulf of Edinburgh. It is for this title that the Keiths are sometimes known as the Marshalls, and many Clansmen adopted that name.
Early Origins of the McKeith family
The surname McKeith was first found in Haddingtonshire where Harvey Keith, successor of the aforementioned Robert Keith (d. 1346) inherited the office of Marshal late in the 13th century, but was imprisoned by the English until 1304. "Reported to [King] Edward as 'one of his worst enemies,' and 'of bad repute,' he was ordered to be removed to Nottingham Castle; but, on reaching York on his way thither, was sent to Bristol Castle. In 1302 he was admitted to the king's peace, and returning to Scotland, is mentioned as dining with the Prince of Wales at Perth in February 1304." 
He became one of four Deputy Wardens of Scotland. He joined the cause of King Robert the Bruce, and for their assistance to the Scottish crown, the Clan was granted the royal forest of Kintore. Harvey Keith commanded the Scots Cavalry at Bannockburn and was probably more instrumental in the annihilation of the English army than any other single person. He was again granted lands for his deeds, this time at the expense of the Clan Cumming (Comyn), whose estates at Buchan were acquired by the Keith Clan.
His great grandson, Sir William Keith, (d. 1336) founded the tower of Dunottar Castle. He brought the bones and heart of James Douglas, as well as King Robert I of Scotland's heart, back to Scotland after Douglas was killed on crusade in Spain. Through marriage with an heiress of the Cheynes of Axkergill, the Keiths acquired lands in Caithrless, and began a never-ending succession of feuds with their new neighbors, the Gunns and others.
Early History of the McKeith family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our McKeith research. Another 359 words (26 lines of text) covering the years 1438, 1464, 1475, 1540, 1588, 1581, 1553, 1623, 1585, 1635, 1610, 1670, 1714, 1718, 1699, 1758, 1694, 1664, 1712, 1638, 1716 and are included under the topic Early McKeith History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
McKeith Spelling Variations
Although Medieval Scotland lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations of Scottish single names. McKeith has been written Keith, Keath, Ceiteach (Gaelic) and others.
Early Notables of the McKeith family (pre 1700)
Notable amongst the Clan at this time was William Keith (d. 1475), 1st Earl Marischal of Scotland; Agnes Keith, Countess of Moray (c.1540-1588), a Scottish noblewoman; William Keith, 4th Earl Marischal (d. 1581), a Scottish nobleman and politician; George Keith, 5th Earl Marischal (c.1553-1623), a Scottish nobleman; William Keith, 6th Earl Marischal (c.1585-1635), a Scottish lord, Earl Marischal and naval official; William...
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early McKeith Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the McKeith family to Ireland
Some of the McKeith family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the McKeith family
Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland or Australia, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through Clan societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name McKeith: James Keith settled in Barbados with his wife and daughter in 1678; Henry Keith settled in Virginia in 1679; George Keith settled in Philadelphia in 1682.
The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Veritas vincit
Motto Translation: Truth Conquers.
- Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print